The New York Times has a short editorial called “Three School Shootings” (login required) that uses recent school violence to argue somewhat obliquely against gun ownership. The most notable part to me is this:
The weapons were the same, and so was the conflict between the hideous assault of a damaged mind and the atmosphere of openness and trust that makes education possible.
This has all the hallmarks of a colorful, calculated juxtaposition that works as rhetoric but fails to provide enough context or content to do more than play on the readers’ emotions. The conclusion of the editorial is this:
But in these killings we see an open society threatened by the ubiquity of its weapons, in which one kind of freedom is allowed to trump all others. Most gun owners are respectable, law-abiding citizens. But that is no reason to acquit the guns.
I have to wonder if the NYT isn’t losing the forest through the trees. The methods and mechanisms of violence aren’t interchangeable, but neither are they the real point. The onus should be on the damaged minds that produce the motivations to realize such horrors. Further, the salient point isn’t one freedom (the right to own guns) trumping others (e.g., the right not to be shot by guns), it’s the first quote: damaged minds running free in an open society.
I don’t know what the incidence of criminally aberrant behavior is in the country or world compared to that found in history, recent or otherwise. Three school shootings within a week certainly rivets our attention, but is this just an unfortunate series of compressed events bound to happen given the fact that we’re nearly 300 million people in the U.S.? Even if we banned guns, or worse, became a totalitarian society, we still couldn’t ensure everyone’s safety in the face of some statistically inevitable number of people going berserk every week.